Dr. Thomas Webster, associate professor at the Brown University School of Engineering, has received a patent for "Nanofibers as a Neural Biomaterial," U.S. Patent Number: 7,993,412. Professor Webster has now been awarded 11 full patents plus four provisional patents in his 11 years in academics (five years at Brown and six years at Purdue).
The technology in this patent describes the use of carbon nanotubes/nanofibers to heal a wide range of neurological disorders, from stroke to Parkinson's disease. In this technology, carbon nanotubes and nanofibers, which are tubes and fibers formed from the helical arrangement of carbon, were shown to significantly promote the function of neurons while inhibiting glial scar tissue formation to reverse brain damage. In particular, the unique high conductivity coupled with high strength to low weight ratios of carbon nanotubes were helpful for stimulating functions of nuerons. Carbon nanotubes have even been shown to improve stem cell differentiation into neurons in animal experiments. Currently, this technology is licensed to Nanovis, Inc. (www.nanovis.com)
Webster received his bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and his master’s degree and and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Professor Webster directs the Nanomedicine Laboratory which designs, synthesizes, and evaluates nanophase materials for various implant applications. Nanophase materials are central to the field of nanotechnology and are materials with one dimension less than 100 nm. Materials investigates to date include nanophase ceramics, metals, polymers, carbon fibers, and composites. Organ systems evaluated to date include orthopedic, cartilage, vascular, bladder, and the central and peripheral nervous systems.
His lab group has generated four books, 33 book chapters, 85 invited prestentations (including tutorials), 215 literature articles and/or conference proceeding, and 245 conference presentations. His technology has resulted in one start-up company. He is the founding editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Nanomedicine and is on the editorial board of ten other journals. He has organized over 25 symposia at academic conferences. Dr. Webster was the 2002 recipient of the Biomedical Engineering Society Rita Schaffer Young Investigator Award, the 2004 recipient of the Outstanding Young Investigator Award for the Schools of Engineering at Purdue University, the 2004 finalist for the Young Investigator Award of the American Society for Nanomedicine, and the 2005 recipient of the Wallance Coulter Foundation Early Career Award.